They wanted a relaxed and fun atmosphere, with personal touches and entertainment in the evening. They DIY’d much of their wedding, with crafting parties to create the lovely details. I so love the colourful bouquets they arranged themselves too. And finally a scrumptious Choccywoccydoodah cake… yum!
Thanks so much to the brilliant Zoetrope Photography for sharing her photographs with us today.
The Proposal… On the last day of a holiday in Cuba, we were sat around the pool overlooking the beautiful views of the mountains, and Paul popped the question- with a massive plastic ring from Topshop with a picture of his face stuck on it- I said yes! (we found an official engagement ring when we got home!)
The Vision for the Day… We wanted quite a relaxed day with lots of fun and laughter. We knew from the start we wanted a venue that was a blank canvas so we could decorate it ourselves and put our own stamp on the day.
The Planning Process… We had 18 months between the proposal and our date, so we booked the venues all well in advance. This level of organisation was totally out of character for us; we usually leave everything to the last minute. Pleased with ourselves, we sat back and did little else for about a year! And so, true to form, the wedding was mostly arranged in the last 3-6 months (whilst also moving into our first house!)
The Venue… We’d been to a friend’s wedding where the ceremony, the meal, and reception were in different venues and we loved moving between each, the change of scenery and the opportunity for the guests to mix, so we were sure that’s what we wanted for ours.
We were married on the Victorian Bandstand in Brighton overlooking the beach. It was somewhere we’d been thinking of from the beginning but we had doubts because of the danger of bad weather washing out the day. After visiting a few other venues in Sussex we realised we’d only be happy with the Bandstand and we took the risk. Luckily, the gamble paid off; the day was beautifully sunny.
After the ceremony guests were ferried by vintage London Routemaster bus to Sam’s restaurant in Brighton for the wedding breakfast. We’d had to change the restaurant venue at the last minute when our first choice had a change of management, but we were so pleased with the outcome. The food was out of this world and the staff including Sam, the chef and owner, were really professional.
After the meal our bus returned to whisk everyone off to Fabrica, a former church in the centre of Brighton which nowadays is an art gallery and occasional wedding reception venue. Fabrica provided a bar and a few staff but the rest was a blank canvas.
The Dress + Accessories… My dress was the Phillipa dress by Ronald Joyce. I had a strong idea of what I wanted from early on, something lacey, fitted, with a fishtail. The only accessories I wore were some simple crystal studs that my step mum gave me the day before. As the dress was quite detailed, I didn’t think it needed anything else.
Finding the Dress… I went dress shopping with my whole family in tow at Christmas in my home town of Southport. I found it in the first shop we went into. As the shop manager was asking me questions about what I was looking for, I spotted it over her shoulder and couldn’t wait to try it on. I tried several others on that day but had pretty much already decided this was ‘the one’.
As Southport is a good 5-hour drive from Brighton I thought it would be best to try and find the dress somewhere closer to home to make it easier for fittings and found it in a boutique in Sussex. Unfortunately the wait for the dress was quite a stressful experience, with the boutique cancelling fittings, and even closing down without warning. I eventually had my first fitting a week before the wedding in an office the boutique owner was using, and picked it up two days before the big day!
Groom’s Attire… The groom, best man, our dads and brothers were dressed in a 3-piece charcoal grey morning suit with cream shirt and purple tie. Put off by the price of hiring suits, and after some haggling, we bought our suits for not much more than the cost hiring and were able to give the suits to the men after the wedding
The Readings + Music… The readings were: Blessing of the Hands (by Unknown), read my not-so-little sister Gina and Sonnet CXVI: Let me not to the Marriage of True Minds (by William Shakespeare) read by Paul’s brother Neil.
Music was a mixture of our favourites and guests’ choices from a questionnaire added to the wedding invitations. The first dance was All The Time In The World (by Louis Armstrong), which we thought was appropriate for our laid back approach to life.
As a surprise for our guests we had a unique band ‘The Iron Bootscrapers’ come and play shortly after guests arrived at Fabrica. They’re a busking band who play modern songs such as Rihanna’s Umbrella, and Muse in a ‘vintage style’. Always moving, they ran round the room standing on tables and chairs and serenading unsuspecting guests. A brilliant way to get the evening do started.
Later on, we had a band called ‘One Two Step’ perform. Fabrica was a great setting them with the chancel area of the church creating an atmospheric stage. They had everyone dancing with a mixture of everything from modern pop to Motown. They even performed the Baywatch song and persuaded everyone run ‘slow motion life guard style’ across the room during the song.
Beautiful Bridesmaids… The head bridesmaid was my old school friend Sarah, and I had my two younger sisters as well.
The all contributed so much to the wedding, and we couldn’t have done it without them. Sarah works in events management so was the perfect person to help us with the wedding. She spent many a weekend on the train from London to organise myself and Paul, creating list after list and countless spreadsheets to make sure we were getting everything done. The week before the wedding she spent the whole week with us, running round helping get everything finished.
My generous sister Stephanie bravely volunteered to do all the girls hair on the day, (mum, me, and bridesmaids including herself) considering the ceremony’s early start of 11.30, it was quite a task but she did such a brilliant job especially considering we didn’t do a trial run beforehand. I just described to her what I wanted and she made everyone look amazing.
My littlest sister Georgina did a reading for us at the ceremony, which she read beautifully and bought a tear to everyone’s eye, I was very proud of her. She was a little star.
The Flowers… With no clue about flowers at all, I thought it would be a great idea to do all our own flowers! I figured out what colours I liked and did a bit of research and found a company called ‘Triangle Nursery’ who sell flowers online at wholesale prices. They were incredibly helpful and gave me some great tips. I ended up ordering a mixture of pink and purple flowers, including peonies, allium, and gypsophilia. The flowers arrived a few days before the wedding, and with the help of my mum, Sarah and YouTube we created the bouquets, button holes and 8 centre pieces the day before the wedding. (I spent the night worrying the button holes not survive the night but they were fine!)
The Cake… Paul was in charge of arranging the cake and insisted on it being a surprise. It was definitely that; a three-tier white chocolate creation from the geniuses at Choccywockydodah in Brighton covered with vintage pastel flowers and cabbages(!). Each tier was a different variety of dark chocolate sponge, such as chili chocolate and was so thickly covered in chocolate it was almost impossible to cut… hmmmm….
Your Photographer… Zoe Manders and her husband Richard were our photographers for the day. We found her website after searching for someone who captures moments as they happen rather than ‘staged shots’ that can interrupt the flow of the day. As well as being talented ‘shooters’ they’re also lovely people, and great fun to have around. We were blown away with their final photographs, and as a surprise they sent us an amazing short video of the day that captured the whole atmosphere of the wedding.
The Details + Decor… The bandstand was decorated with flowers and ribbon by Lisa Fox and her team http://weddingdressings.co.uk/ .
Sam’s Restaurant is so nice inside we didn’t feel the need to decorate this at all. We just bought along handmade table numbers, and a seating plan. For place names I decided to handwrite each guest’s name on a pebble. Cue numerous covert trips to the beach gathering pebbles. At the end of the meal many guests took these home as a memento of the day. (All of which have since been returned to the beach, of course!)
As Fabrica is such a huge empty space this was the biggest decorating challenge of the whole day. The building itself is beautiful so we didn’t want to do anything to over the top. Inside it’s overlooked by balconies, so we strung paper crepe streamers and twinkling fairy lights from one side to the other, and hung up bunting around below the balconies. For the tables we filled birdcages borrowed from my work (we use them as props in photo shoots) with paper pompoms and fairy lights. I also sewed hessian tablecloths and made stripy table runners.
A few weeks before the wedding I invited the girls from work to a craft night at my house, where we made tea lights out of jam jars decorated with paper hearts and electric candles (actually more drinking occurred than actual jam jar making but it made me feel loads less stressed). We dotted the tea lights around the room along with jars of left over flowers.
Paul and I both have a sweet tooth so we thought it would be appropriate to have a sweet table at Fabrica. We found ornate glass bowls from charity shops and eBay and filled them with retro sweets.
To save money, we also made our own photo booth, with an aluminium frame meant to be for a greenhouse, lots of fabric, some cheap lighting, and my iPad running a wedding photo booth app. This was one of our favourite parts of the wedding; we ended up with hundreds of hilarious photos, with guests making full use of the props we’d found in joke shops online.
All of the decoration and setting up of Fabrica had to come together in just a 5-hour window the venue had given us the day before the wedding. This was a huge task: we had to set up tables, chairs, the lighting we had hired, the photo booth, and all the decorations. Luckily lots of our family came to help us set up. I think this made the day even more special for everyone who helped out as they had put so much work into it too!
The Honeymoon… No sooner had we finished taking down the venue than we were rushing to the airport to fly to Greece for our honeymoon. Paul had organised the first week of the holiday with our own villa in the Pelopennese followed by a luxury spa hotel overlooking Nafplio. The second week we left to a whim, ending up staying near ancient Olympia and the stunning Voidokilia Beach.
With so much to organise for the wedding for so long, it was surprisingly hard to get into the swing of doing nothing! But somehow we managed to decompress…
Memorable Moments… Everybody singing to ‘summer holiday’ and ‘all you need is love’ on the bus. A spontaneous conga at the end of the night. The brilliant speeches by my dad and the best man Pete. Struggling to cut the cake as the chocolate was so thick. My baby sister making everyone laugh at the ceremony as she had to crouch down to the microphone during her reading (the registrar kindly jumped in and adjusted it for her!). Driving to the bandstand in the open top Morris Minor called Molly with my mum. All my nerves disappearing as soon as I saw Paul at the bandstand.
Advice for Other Couples… Do what you want to do. It’s your one day so it should be special for you, and you can’t please everyone! If people want to help let them! We couldn’t have done it all without everyone’s help, and it made them enjoy the day even more. Don’t be afraid to haggle!
Credit Where Credit is Due…
Vintage bus hire- http://www.pavilioncoaches.co.uk/
Molly the Morris Minor hire- http://www.premierweddingcars.co.uk
Sam’s of Brighton restaurant- http://www.samsofbrighton.co.uk/
Zoetrope Photography- http://www.zoetropeweddingphotography.co.uk/
Bandstand dressing service- http://weddingdressings.co.uk
One Two Step band – http://onetwostepband.com
Iron Bootscrapers band- http://www.ironbootscrapers.com/
Fabrica reception venue- http://fabrica.org.uk/
Brighton Bandstand- http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/leisure-and-libraries/seafront/bandstand
Lighting hire- http://www.boathaudiovisual.co.uk/
Triangle Nursery- http://www.trianglenursery.co.uk/
Just wonderful. Thanks so much to Emma and Paul for sharing their beautiful wedding with us today XOXO Lou